View Full Version : Use and Perception of Violence

07-17-2008, 08:16 PM
Anthropoetics, Fall 07/Winter 08:

Use and Perception of Violence: A Girardian Approach to Asymmetric Warfare (http://www.anthropoetics.ucla.edu:80/ap1303/1303baeriswyl.htm)

This essay is based on a paper that I presented at a conference (http://www.netherlands-embassy.org/files/pdf/conferenceannouncement.pdf) organised by the Ministry of Defence of the Netherlands on the "moral dimension of asymmetric warfare." It combines René Girard’s theses on societal violence with the latest analyses of those modern conflicts which strategists call "asymmetric." The Western military may find in Girardian anthropology an explanation for the accrued difficulty that they meet in their missions on modern battlefields. The application of René Girard’s theses to modern warfare provides anthropologists with further evidence of the validity of these theses. More broadly, this essay challenges the relativism that has developed in Western society over the last three centuries.....

07-18-2008, 09:23 AM
There are a few things...

1. In relation to asymmetry/irregular forces being extremely evanescent I would have to disagree to some extent by simply pointing to Mao's doctorine and it's current prevalence around the world.

2. Regarding the Western state... you use Mogadishu as an example. It needs to be noted that the soldiers involved did not want to pull out. However to withdraw was seen as the politically expedient thing to do. Much of the Western concept of war is still rooted in WWII with clear lines of victory and defeat.

3. I agree that the Western concept has trouble grasping the nature of a fluid battlefield, particularly in the US, despite a long history of fighting counter-insurgencies. Many counter-insurgencies are over looked in commonly taught history due to the ambiguity of the conflict or the fact that counter-insurgencies do not appear "clean".

4. I can see the point you are making with the ability to exploit a military engagement in human space however the success of that is dependent upon the restraint observed (or enforced upon) the major power in question. The belligerent is hoping that international pressure and the belief/values of the major power is such that they won't bring their entire force to bear.

5. Regarding the incidents in Iraq and A-stan... I think the key you mention here is the media. If it were not for the media then most likely none of these incidents would have seen the light of day. Conversely the media has been feeding the frenzy associated with these incidents to their benefit by literaly crucifying the accussed in the media without a trial. In assuming guilt and ignoring journalistic integrity they are making the situation far worse that what it would be.

I agree that if the public knew that the provocation was part of the strategy that the information would normally turn public opinion however the distance between the two sides of this conflict, atleast in the US, is so great that we may actually see people encouraging the tactics of the belligerents.

6. I agree regarding Hizbollahs use of Human Space was masterfull. I think it also shows by winning the Human Space, the media, one can achieve a visotry of sorts. Israel hit the infrastructure. Hizbollah threw up a token force and won in the Human Space. By being so effective in destroying infrastructure Israel also gave Hizboolah, and by default Iran, the oppurtunity to capitalize on and to further cement their popular support in the area.

Long read (and good read) short....

Are you arguing that to effectively reduce or even "win" in an asymmetrical environment one must control not just the media but the flow of information, in and out, of the battle space.